5 Worst Things About Going to the OB (and How to Cope)

Getting to hear baby's heart beat is pretty cool. Other parts of prenatal visits? Not so much. Here's how to deal.
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Updated June 19, 2017
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Let’s be honest: you probably have a list of reasons why you really don’t want to see your OB. And while non-pregnant women don’t necessarily need to schedule an appointment every year, you’ll be gearing up for an exam at least once a month. Here’s some of the things that make us dread these trips and some tips for making things sail a little more smoothly.

You hate: The long wait

By the time the nurse calls your name, your butt is numb and you’ve played 16 games of Candy Crush (fun, but not exactly how you wanted to spend your afternoon). And if your partner came along, he or she is probably getting pretty antsy.

How to deal: When you make your appointment, ask for the first time slot in the morning. The earlier the appointment, the less likely the office is to be running behind, says Robin Elise Weiss, pregnancy and childbirth educator and author of The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion. Didn’t get an early slot? Call ahead and see if things are running on schedule—the receptionist may tell you you’re in the clear to show up a little later.

You hate: Your “private” parts being on display

You know spreading ’em is part of the routine, but that doesn’t make pelvic exams any more fun. Somebody you barely know is checking out your most private areas—and you probably can’t help but wonder if they’re critiquing your, um, haircut.

How to deal: Remind yourself that you’re seeing your doctor for a reason: You trust them. And remember that this feels really intimate to you, but to your OB, this is everyday stuff. “Ob-gyns have seen every size, shape and form, and we aren’t passing judgment on your appearance,” says Rebecca Shiffman, MD, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in Bronx, New York.

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You hate: Pain and discomfort

Let’s face it, internal exams, vaginal ultrasounds and having your blood drawn can be more than a little uncomfortable.

How to deal: At the beginning of the appointment, talk with your doctor about what sensations to expect. While you’re getting an internal exam, try to relax. The less you tense up, the less discomfort you’ll feel. You can use relaxation methods like taking deep breaths or listening to music, advises Shiffman. During blood work, look away and chat with the nurse or your partner to distract you from what’s happening, advises Weiss.

You hate: Getting exactly 2.5 minutes with your doctor

You’d think after all that time you spent in the waiting room, you’d get to have a nice, long face-to-face with your OB. But instead, you feel like she’s in and out of the exam room before you can even think of questions to ask her. Of course, as soon as she leaves, you’ve got a million.

How to deal: Come prepared. Write out your questions in advance and bring the list with you. Whip it out as soon as the doctor is done examining you—or heck, as soon as she walks in the door—and fire away.

Also, know that your doctor is probably completely unaware that you’re feeling rushed. She just knows she has a schedule to keep (and she’s probably behind!), so go ahead and ask the office if you can schedule a longer appointment to discuss your concerns next time. (But if you go this route, ask whether you’ll be billed extra and whether your insurance is likely to cover it.)

You hate: Feeling like your birth plan is getting the brush-off

We know. You put a lot of time and thought into that birth plan, but when you handed it to your doctor, she barely glanced at it before sticking it in your chart.

How to deal: Prioritize. Your doctor probably doesn’t have time to read a novel of a birth plan. So instead of giving her a three-page document, give her the main highlights—the stuff that’s most important to you. For example, whether you have an IV might not matter to you, but not being allowed to eat and drink while in labor might be a deal breaker. Then, talk it through. Instead of thinking of your birth plan as just a printed list, make it a discussion. “Talk to your care provider and explain how you’re feeling. Be ready to listen, too, to what they have to say,” says Weiss. While you’re talking it through, your doctor is more likely to pay attention and take your preferences seriously.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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